GENEVA – Cholera cases have surged this year, especially in areas of poverty and conflict, with outbreaks reported in 26 countries and a sharp rise in fatality rates, World Health Organization officials said Friday. Stated.
In a typical year, fewer than 20 countries report disease outbreaks that can be spread by ingestion of contaminated food or water and cause acute diarrhea.
Philippe Barbosa, WHO’s cholera team leader, said at a press conference in Geneva: “After years of declining numbers, cholera outbreaks around the world have become very worrying over the past year. We are witnessing a rapid increase.
The average fatality rate so far this year has nearly tripled compared to the five-year average and is now around 3% in Africa, he added.
Most affected people have mild or no symptoms, but cholera can die within hours if left untreated.
A cholera outbreak in Syria, which has already killed at least 33 people, has posed a danger to the frontlines of the country’s 11-year civil war and stirred fear in crowded camps.
Barbosa also expressed concern about outbreaks in the Horn of Africa and parts of Asia, including Pakistan, where some areas are flooded.
He said only a few million doses of the vaccine would be available by the end of the year, citing manufacturer shortages among the problems.
WHO maintains an emergency stockpile of cholera vaccine.
There was no overall estimate of the number of cholera cases worldwide, he said, because countries have different surveillance systems.